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Poplar man targets congressional seat

A Poplar businessman knows firsthand the impact government policies can have on small businesses. After Wisconsin raised tipping fees last year, Gary Kauther, owner of the former GT Sanitation, said the decision to raise fees to some of the highe...

A Poplar businessman knows firsthand the impact government policies can have on small businesses.

After Wisconsin raised tipping fees last year, Gary Kauther, owner of the former GT Sanitation, said the decision to raise fees to some of the highest in the nation forced him out business. That prompted him to get more involved in politics.

"In my case, I was taxed out of my business," Kauther said. Married, with three adult children, he said he wants to do something about the challenges small businesses face at the hands of government.

Kauther announced Thursday that he is making a bid for the 7th Congressional District seat.

"I thought I could have a bigger impact and help more as a representative in congress than as a state senator or assemblyman," Kauther said. "And very few candidates out there have business experience."

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Kauther is running as an independent.

Ken Driessen of Hayward is also running as an independent for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wausau, who is retiring after his current term. State Sen. Julie Lassa of Stevens Point is the only Democrat in the race so far. Republican candidates Dan Mielke, a farmer and businessman from Rudolph, and Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy are running on a Republican ticket.

Kauther said his experience as a small businessman over the last few years has given him perspective that could help other struggling small business owners like himself.

And Kauther is no stranger to politics. In 2004, he made a bid to serve on the Douglas County Board, followed two years later with a state senate race against Poplar Democrat Bob Jauch. Then in 2008, he made a bid for state assembly. In both state races, he ran on the Democratic ticket. He was unsuccessful in all three elections.

However, he said he believes in principle ideas of both parties, which is why he's running as an independent. Kauther said he supports the Second Amendment, is pro-life, opposes health care reform and believes the public is overtaxed, but he also believes in labor unions.

"I do believe that people out there are fed up with what's going on, on a national level, on a local level," Kauther said. "We've got to learn to operate with a budget and stay within that budget. It's time for change."

And unlike most candidates running for the seat, Kauther said the first order of change he is offering is that he won't engage in fundraising to run a campaign.

"I'm a straight shooter," Kauther said. "If you ask me a question, you won't get the run-around."

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